Aug 16, 201610:54 AMThe Gray Area
with Donna Gray
10 tips for a better work-life balance
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Editor's note: The Gray Area is undergoing a format change. Donna Gray is going to start blogging on common issues facing small business owners, lending her perspective and insights based on a lifetime of experience in business. Think of it as “Dear Abby” for business. If you have a business issue or question you'd like expert guidance on, email Online Editor Jason Busch at firstname.lastname@example.org, with the subject “The Gray Area,” and we'll have Donna and her extensive network of business experts tackle it for you.
In her book, Never Check E-Mail in the Morning, Julie Morgenstern says, “According to Harvard economist Juliet Schor, the average American works 163 additional hours, or one month a year, more today than in 1969.”
Many of my local business friends agree. And they’re now looking for a simpler life, where they can do their work without always feeling like they’re operating in the fast lane. Today, people seem to finally be taking to heart the old saying, “Nobody on their deathbed has ever said, ‘I wish I had spent more time at the office.’”
It’s easy to have the balance of work and personal life tilt in favor of work. Since several readers have expressed that they’re struggling to achieve that perfect balance, I asked an expert life coach friend to give some ideas for taking advantage of time away from the office. Here are some of her suggestions:
- Don’t take work home with you, or at least cut down the amount that does go in the briefcase.
- Delegate more. You should not be the hardest working person in the office, unless you own the business and are working toward building your “empire.”
- Divide any time saved equally between work and personal life.
- Black out certain days/nights for things you want to do.
- Find or create a retreat area where you can get away for either a long weekend or just for a brief time during the workweek. When heading to that area make a pact that your “vacation starts right now” and stick to it!
- Escape to … If it’s not possible to steal away for full-fledged R&R, try to escape for at least one hour each day, either for a fitness break or to sip (not guzzle) coffee or tea in a special place.
- Sit in silence for a short break each day.
- Find and work on a hobby. I know a busy executive who has one of the most beautiful gardens in the area. Gardening became a go-to stress reducer a few years ago. Now this person’s yard is a showplace of color from early spring to late fall. Another busy business friend gardens to help local food pantries stock up with produce.
- Make time to practice meditation.
- Remember what it feels like to be with family, play more games, read more books, see a movie, go fishing. Take that memory and make it reality again.
My expert life coach says that top business performers are very dedicated to a good work-life balance. They “work” on focusing their time away from the office on leisure, either with family or when needed by themselves.